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Grobnik in the Iron Age

Martine Blečić

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (4 MB) str. 47-117 preuzimanja: 2.506* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Blečić, M. (2004). Grobnik u željezno doba. Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, 37 (1), 47-117. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Blečić, Martine. "Grobnik u željezno doba." Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, vol. 37, br. 1, 2004, str. 47-117. Citirano 24.11.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Blečić, Martine. "Grobnik u željezno doba." Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu 37, br. 1 (2004): 47-117.
Blečić, M. (2004). 'Grobnik u željezno doba', Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, 37(1), str. 47-117. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 24.11.2020.)
Blečić M. Grobnik u željezno doba. Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu [Internet]. 2004 [pristupljeno 24.11.2020.];37(1):47-117. Dostupno na:
M. Blečić, "Grobnik u željezno doba", Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, vol.37, br. 1, str. 47-117, 2004. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 24.11.2020.]

The theory that Grobnik existed and developed during the Iron Age is primarily supported by
the research of the Grobnik necropolis Grobi{}e since as a result of thousands of years of urbanisation
and successive extensions any physical features dating from the Iron Age have been obliterated
with the exception of the pattern and disposition of the settlement itself. (fig 1, 4–5). The
necropolis, as was the rule in the Rijeka region, was located beside one of the town approaches,
which is typical of the wider Mediterranean cultural heritage. Research of the Grobi{}e necropolis
has shown that the bodies were buried fully extended, typical of the Japodic, Colapian and Notranjska
cultural groups. Construction of the grave was simple, consisting of a number of stone
arches above the head of the deceased or just a levelling of the ground (soil or sand). However, as in
the Kastav necropolis, we must take into account previous research, which indicates that burials at
Grobnik also took the form of cremation in urn graves. This suggests there may have been bi-ritual
burial customs, which is often the case among the Japodian, Colapian and Notranjska cultures.
Finds of material culture show that bodies were clothed in autochthonous and recognisable costumes
and/or encased in sheets, which were decorated with bronze buttons, a considerable number
of which have been found. Various traditional kinds of fibulae, rings or belts, decorative beads and
necklaces and occasionally earrings, pectorals or special forms of amulets were probably the mark
of more outstanding individuals of the community. Grave goods took the form of simple ceramic
articles or, more rarely, ceramic whorls (Pl. 1–9).
Chronologically, the material culture discovered shows the settlement of Grobnik to have
been formed later than the one in Kastav. This can especially be seen in the various kinds of fibulae
found, according to which other finds can be dated, especially parts of costumes since ceramic
production is far less well documented than that of nearby Kastav. Research of all elements shows
that the settlement was formed and organised during the period of the mature Iron Age in the
seventh century BC, until the early sixth century BC, an intermixing of very diverse cultural elements
and influences expanded, as in the wider Rijeka region. From that time there were stronger
links with Italic cultures, especially that of Este and northern parts, and there is evidence of cultural
influence from central and southern Italy and from the other direction from the Japodic and sub-
-Alpine regions and even from the central Balkans. This can be seen from the finds of two-knot bow
fibula (Pl. 2: 1.1). Unlike other finds this Grobnik fibula can only be associated with Balkan influence
and can be dated to the seventh or even sixth century BC. Of course besides reflecting
certain adoption of styles, taste and trends they also show adaptation to personal conception, requirements
and possibilities, throughout the Iron Age, which may be best seen in fibulae, pins and
belt decorations. Raw materials came from the nearest sources in Gorski Kotar or the Kvarner
(Quarnero) islands, and were the basis of considerable trade and exchange especially with the
sub-Alpine areas directly or through the Japods of the west Balkan mines. The horse motive dominates
these artefacts and is seen as a chthonic deity in all forms of the burial cult, deeply rooted in
Mediterranean traditions. Thus a profitable trade developed and strengthened the currents of cultural
influence. This stabilised in the sixth century BC to the early decades of the fourth century BC.
The Certosa fibula was very important for this whole period; most commonly found are numerous
examples of the late 10 variant of B. Ter`an. There are also examples of the 12 b and 7 e and f
variants of later fibula, last expression of the Hallstatt culture. They show local workmanship
especially in additional decorative details in spirals, earrings, rings and pendants. Pendants can be
seen to be original local products from the pictorial elements, style and workmanship and were the
product of a local workshop, which specialised in casting apotropaic symbolic and decorative
products and which was probably in Kastav. This was particularly true of pectorals with animal
motives, which were favourite fashion and cult symbols of the Grobnik community. Some authors
consider that the pectorals from the Rijeka region, like all Vinica examples, were under direct
Japodic influence because the antithetic placement of horses’ heads are a sign of their zoomorphic
art. Pendants and pectorals can be dated to the fifth and fourth centuries BC and extended to the
third. Some other imported goods can be dated from the same period as the Certosa fibula, such as
kantharos from grave 1, trench 3, in the Grobi{}e nekroplis (Pl. 1: grave 1: 6, fig 15) which,
according to similar examples in Italy, are dated fourth and third centuries BC, which is confirmed
by the Certosa fibula, local variant 10, with saltaleone on bow, and other parts of wearing apparel
found in the same grave. Thus the majority of articles show signs of local production or are high
quality imports, which indicate the prosperity, strength and cultural awareness of the inhabitants of
the wider Rijeka region at that time, and which should be seen in the wider context as the height of
the Iron-Age during the prehistoric or classical history of Europe.
In the same way in inland Europe the early signs of the new Iron-Age began to be indirectly
felt most commonly in fibula. Indeed the Grobnik pectoral was suspended from an early La Tène
fibula with a zoomorphic design (Pl. 6: 1.3.2. fig 14), which means that at that time Celtic culture
began to be indirectly felt in such fibula. In this way we can see the unbroken connection of the
Rijeka region with the Sveta Lucija i.e. Idrija in the Poso~je groups where identical examples are
found. That connections via the La Tène form existed with the Po valley is shown in the early La
Tène ribbed fibula (T, 4: 1.3.3., fig 16). The style of workmanship and form of this fibula can
simultaneously be found in the Padua part of Etruria and also refer to the early La Tène form with a
curved leg (T. 4: 1.3.1., fig 16), of which similar examples can be found in Este and Montebelluno.
Analogous fibulae are also to be found in Mokronog and Novo Mesto and record the level of Mokornog 1, in the fourth and third centuries BC. The next development came in the mid La Tène fibula, a large number of bronze buttons, outstanding being a conical button and a disk shape, and belts made of buttons and two-part cast
plaques. Taking into account parallel forms of decoration this belt can be included among the group of Vinica belts and dated to the third or beginning of the second century BC. Chronologically theycorrespond with the mid La Tène period (Pl. 4: 1.4.1,– 1.4.3., fig 16) known as the regional type of
Kastav. Most like them are those of the Japod region in Lika and the Una Valley where they were
found together with type Certosa 7 fibula variant B Ter`an (Pl. 2. 1.2. 4; 3: 1.2.5.–1.2.8, fig 13)
exactly as at Grobnik. These parallels identify them geographically, culturally and chronologically.
All these examples of the material culture show the further intensive connections with the Japodic
and Colapian cultures, which probably came from the sub-Alpine region now completely part of the
La Tène world. This was a time when imports from the Mediterranean workshops declined, which
was a result of the Roman domination of the Mediterranean shores, particularly in Italy and the
whole of the Adriatic. During the period from the first decade of the third century to the second half
of the second BC there were fierce Japod attacks on Aquileia region, which prevented Roman
stabilization of this part of Cisalpine Gaul (APP. ILLYR. 18). This was a period when the Japods
could have been able to rule the Primorje, which would tally with ancient sources that contain no
information about Liburnia on the coast. Confirmation of this is provided by documentation of the
material culture from the wider Rijeka region, i.e. Grobnik and Kastav, which are more in touch
with Japod than Liburnian material culture. Of course one can suppose that the Japod strength in
those coastal regions differed from that of its central area, allowing them to merge with adjacent
cultures. In the second half of the second century BC there were great changes resulting from the
advance of powerful Roman Republic. This was especially felt in the Rijeka region during the wars
between Rome and the Japods and Carni or Histri, who would in that period be defeated. In Grobnik,
the period from then until the creation of the Empire with its political frontiers, was the last
phase of what we may still call the Iron Age during which the Jezerine fibula came into use although
most likely the old forms of fibulae, rings, buttons, ceramic, amber and glass beads still had their
place. The Jezerine fibulae (T. 5: 1. 5. 1–1. 5.2, fig 18) like the many examples from the graveyards
of Pounje and Novo Mesto were the last Iron Age products in what was the period of new civilisation.
According to the most recent studies of Stefan Demetz, the Grobnik fibulae belong to the
Jezerine type IIa2, which match Feugère type 12a, and can be dated to the end of the first century
BC. These and similar artefacts can often be found together in early Roman culture. Parts of costume
found in the Grobnik necropolis underpin this as burials took place dating from ancient even
to the early Middle Ages. Most important in all this is the essential continuity, from the Iron Age to
ancient and observance of an authentic burial, costume and burial customs. These are all witnesses of a single human community, a population that retained its cultural heritage into the new culture
and civilisation that came with antiquity. This is evidence of a well-structured society that was coherently organised according to its own rules and hierarchy. Some of these elements, as we have
seen, can be seen in the burial customs and material goods, but this is a field that is in general poorly conduct a research, which lessens the possibility of clearer perceptions and concrete analysis of social structure both in Grobnik and in the whole of the Rijeka region.

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